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Katherine Aird, PhD
Program(s): Cancer Biology
5117 Centre Ave
Pittsburgh PA

The central theme of my research program is to investigate the metabolic and epigenetic control of senescence in the context of cancer. Cellular senescence is a stable cell cycle arrest that can be both tumor suppressive and tumor promoting in a highly context-dependent manner. Relatively little is known about metabolic changes that either induce or inhibit senescence. Using a combination of cell and molecular biology tools in addition to high-throughput approaches such as metabolomics and functional (epi)-genomics, my laboratory aims to mechanistically understand how to induce or overcome senescence. Our studies also include aspects of translational research utilizing both ovarian cancer and melanoma models to explore whether these newly-identified metabolic and epigenetic pathways can be targeted for novel cancer therapies. The lab is currently funded by: 1) an NCI R37 MERIT Award to understand pro-tumorigenic nucleotide metabolism in melanomagenesis; 2) an American Cancer Society Research Scholar Grant to investigate the role of isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1)-mediated alpha-ketoglutarate production in histone methylation at homologous recombination genes in ovarian cancer; and 3) 2 NRSA F31s elucidating various metabolic and epigenetic mechanisms in ovarian cancer senescence. Pending grants include the role of nuclear acetyl-CoA production on histone acetylation and DNA damage response in ovarian cancer (NCI mPI R01) and how macropinocytosis of branched chain amino acids affects both tumor cell-intrinsic and immune cell responses to therapy (DoD Ovarian Cancer Research Program, a collaboration with Dr. Greg Delgoffe).

Jonathan Alder, PhD
Program(s): Genome Stability
BST W1246
200 Lothrop St.
Pittsburgh PA
Phone: 412-624-8681
Zandrea Ambrose, PhD
Program(s): Cancer Virology
450 Technology Drive
520 Bridgeside Point 2
Pittsburgh PA
Phone: (412) 624-0512

Millions of people are infected with both HIV and HBV. Morbidity and mortality in HIV/HBV co-infection is higher than mono-infections and co-infection accelerates HBV-related liver disease with more frequent development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), particularly when CD4 cell counts are low. Together with Dr. Haitao Guo, we will develop a murine model to study pathogenesis and HCC progression during HIV/HBV co-infection, which will be essential in evaluating mechanisms of infection as well as novel prevention methods, improved therapies, and curative strategies.

Karen Arndt, PhD
Program(s): Genome Stability
A316 Langley Hall
4249 Fifth Ave
Pittsburgh PA
Phone: 412-624-6963
Research Interests and Keywords:
  • Gene expression
  • cellular transcription
  • mRNA synthesis
  • RNA polymerase II
  • chromatin
A critical question to ask, particularly in this genomic era, is how organisms interpret the vast amounts of information encoded in their genomes. The Arndt lab studies the first step in gene expression, the synthesis of mRNA by RNA polymerase II, with a focus on the mechanisms that regulate transcription in the chromatin environment of a eukaryotic cell. The fundamental importance of understanding transcriptional regulation is evident from the large number of human developmental defects and diseases, including cancer and AIDS, that arise when cellular transcription factors are altered by mutation or commandeered by viral proteins.
Oleg Akilov, MD, PhD
Program(s): Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy
3601 Fifth Avenue, 5th Floor
Pittsburgh PA
Phone: 412-647-4200

Oleg E. Akilov, MD, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of the Department of Dermatology at the University of Pittsburgh and a Director of the Cutaneous Lymphoma Program and Extracorporeal Photopheresis Unit. Dr. Akilov directs Cutaneous Lymphoma Program providing the full spectrum of management of all stages of cutaneous lymphoma. He serves as a principal investigator on multiple clinical trials in cutaneous lymphoma. Additionally, Dr. Akilov is very enthusiastic about resident education and mentoring future dermatologists.

Daniel Altschuler, PhD
Program(s): Cancer Therapeutics
Biomedical Science Tower, E-1348
200 Lothrop Street
Pittsburgh PA
Phone: 412-648-9751

Dr. Altschuler's laboratory studies mechanisms of signal transduction by the second messenger cAMP in cell proliferation. cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) and Exchange protein activated by cAMP (Epac) represent the main effectors of cAMP action. Both pathways converge at the level of the small GTPase Rap1b, via its Epac-mediated activation and PKA-mediated phosphorylation. The role of Rap1 activation (Epac) and phosphorylation (PKA) coordinating the early rate-limiting events in cAMP-dependent cell proliferation are studied using a multidisciplinary approach including molecular and cellular biology techniques in vitro, as well as in vivo validation using transgenic/knock in technologies in endocrine tumor models.

Leonard Appleman, MD, PhD
Program(s): Cancer Therapeutics
UPMC Cancer Pavilion
5230 Center Ave., Suite 567
Pittsburgh PA
Phone: 412-648-6507
Research Interests and Keywords:
  • Kidney cancer and other genitourinary malignancies
  • experimental cancer therapeutics
Maninjay Atianand, PhD, MBBS
Program(s): Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy
200 Lothrop St
W1046 BST
Pittsburgh PA
Phone: 412-383-0472